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OGDC auditor under fire for whistleblowing on alleged contract scam

Khalid Mustafa
Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The top management of Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has downgraded the ACR (annual confidential report) of Hafeezur Rehman, head of the audit department, from good to average, for whistleblowing on illegally contracting a company for a project, an official privy to the matters told The News.

Hafeezur Rehman made headlines after spotting anomalies in the award of an $85 million contract for Uch Front End Compression Facility Project at Uch gas field, operated by the OGDC. He was also forced to withdraw his report that clearly indicates the involvement of some senior existing and retired officials of the energy exploration company in bending the system to favour a particular contractor.

Rehman incurred the wrath of the angry bureaucracy of the company because of his not bowing down before the unholy nexus of those influential officials that are allegedly involved in abetting the shady deal.

The top brass of the OGDC is interviewing potential candidates from the open market to replace Rehman as the general manager (GM) of the audit department.

The cabal of unscrupulous elements involved in the contract scam was identified through the WhatsApp communications of the former GM of OGDCL Imran Shaukat.

These communications from Imran Shaukat to OGDCL Young Goldies also hinted at the acting OGDCL MD’s and SNGPL MD’s alleged involvement in this episode.

The WhatsApp conversation of Shaukat, the screengrabs of which are available with The News, shows how this gang of influentials ensured the contract was awarded to the JV of Presson Descon and SNGPL.

The News sent a question to the Spokesman of OGDCL which read: “Sir, I came to know that the ACR of the head of the audit department has been downgraded from good to average after … he refused to change his audit report about compressors facility project at Uch gas field. More importantly, the OGDCL has started interviewing for the appointment of a new head of the audit department to alter the audit report. OGDCL had earlier stopped the appointments of heads of various departments from the open market when CBA raised the protests against this move and then Shahid Khan Abbasi chipped in and it was decided that new MD would take the decision about picking up heads of department, but the existing MD has unilaterally restored the process which was halted just to punish the head of audit department. Sir please reply in detail.”

However, the spokesman answered in ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about the downgrading of the ACR of the Head of the audit department and responded in a cautious manner saying the head of Internal Audit was accountable to the Board’s Audit Committee.

“Performance appraisal is undertaken by the Chairman Audit Committee and the Board. Mr Hafeezur Rahman will be appraised accordingly without exception,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman said the matter regarding Uch Compression plant would be concluded as per rules in the best interest of the organisation without external influence or desire of any interested party.

“And audit comments if any furnished by Mr Hafeezur Rahman form part of the company's normal working and will be taken into account accordingly.”

The OGDC spokesman said please note that the Uch case was being examined and processed on its own merits from compliance, commercial viability, technical soundness and transparency perspectives and not dependent on the views of one individual.

“A team of multidisciplinary professionals is working on it for its early conclusion. It would be unfair to cast aspersions on the basis of rumours and narratives propounded by some disgruntled elements. Despite intimidation and uncalled for hype, the OGDCL team is committed to preserving the interests of the Company.”

However, official sources said that at the very outset, top management adopted a carrot and stick policy for reverting the audit report, but the head of the audit department responded that he and his whole team had prepared the audit report and he was unable to take it back.